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Posts from the Mornings Category

In the past few weeks, I’ve spent quite a bit of time paying attention to our mornings:  what we do, how we feel, and (most importantly!) what’s worth photographing.  I’ve noticed that some mornings get off to a smashing start and others seem to limp along on the wrong foot.

Truthfully, some days are just harder than others.  I may be more tired than usual.  My emotions may be closer to the surface.  Perhaps I’m quicker to raise my voice to get my point across.  I try really hard to match the ideal that I hold in my head of a patient mom, supportive partner, kick-ass friend or on-the-ball business owner.  Other days I don’t try very hard at all because for one reason or many reasons, I don’t have it in me to give.  On the days that I fall short I can be hard on myself.  In the past I’d lie awake in bed feeling like an ass or blubber in Scott’s ear about all the ways I’d fucked up that day.

As I get older I’m realizing that beating myself up feels shitty, and guess what?  I don’t like feeling shitty.  Better yet, I don’t deserve to feel shitty.  So today I take solace in the fact that each morning means a fresh start, and a new day to give being Carmen the Awesome another shot.

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We lived by the baby monitor when the Jordan and Shelby were little. I would carry it around from room to room, plugging it in as I went, just in case something happened. Never mind that the square footage in our apartment was about size of some people’s walk-in closets, or that I could hear my neighbors when they were listening to yet another Grateful Dead song, I was always afraid that I might miss something that Other Baby and Other Baby were chatting about in the mornings. It was nothing earth shattering, but listening to them babble about a doll brought a smile to my face. Jordan’s cajoling Shelby into flipping the light switch on and off and their resulting fits of laughter was generally my cue to get them out of their cribs.

When the girls would wake up, the routine was to bring them into our bed and snuggle for a few minutes. They would climb all over the place, occasionally biting on the back of the headboard, bounce for a while, and then slip under the covers until it became painfully aware that no one was going to sleep. Sounds blissful, right? Truthfully, they “snuggled” so I could get a few more minutes sleep. In actuality, they were climbing on each other, chewing on the headboard, jumping on my back, and then telling me to turn my head the other way because my breath smelled bad. Ah . . . motherhood.

Our morning routines have changed a lot in the past 20 years. It’s been less “momcentric” for quite a while now. Since 1999, they’ve gotten up well after I was up and moving, and they have been perfectly capable of getting themselves dressed, fed, and out the door since then. It’s changed a bit here and there, and for the most part, they’ve been independent from a young age. Granted, I didn’t go as far as my mom and give them an alarm clock as a kindergarten present, but you get the idea. When they got in high school, I would frequently wake up to messages scrawled on the mirror reminding me of things that needed to be done. Not exactly the best way to communicate, but at 5:30 AM it sure beats attempting to wake a sleeping teenager.

Today begins a new chapter for our mornings. Shelby left for Germany last night. I don’t think that a baby monitor will reach all the way to Hamburg, and I’m 99% sure that her headboard biting days are long gone (and if they aren’t I don’t want to know). She’ll have to get herself up and dressed and fed and out the door. And just six short hours later, her sister will go through the same routine independently for the first time in 21 years. I kinda wish that there was a baby monitor just for them so Jordan could whisper one more time, “Shelby, Shelby . . . do it again.”

Have your routines changed in the past few years? Anything drastic? Or have your changes been more gradual?  Perhaps you, too, leave messages on the mirror as a reminder in the morning? I’d love to hear about them as I face my first morning parenting a child thousands of miles away. I have a feeling that I’m going to need all the routine I can get for a while.

The theme of “Mornings” this month has left me a little torn. I have my “Mom Mornings” which run the way they usually do…a kitty trying to nip at my exposed toes while a little 7 year old tries to snuggle her feet even deeper into my back. A teenager still sleeping and a 12 year old doing whatever it is they do in their rooms behind closed doors. I’m cool, I’ll admit it, but not cool enough for a preeteen.

I also have “Me Mornings”. These are the days I wake up and my kids are over at their dad’s house. I’ve had these mornings ever since getting separated in 2010, and these are as unusual as a purple unicorn with rainbow hooves. At first, these “Me Mornings” were traumatically depressing. I’d managed to never spend any time alone with myself ever since…well…ever. I lived with my family until I went to college, then lived with my roomates for 3 years, then met and married my future ex husband before I turned 21, and then it was husband and kids for the next 16 years.

The reality of being by myself scared me more than my impending divorce, honestly, but I didn’t need a therapist to tell me that wasn’t a good enough reason to stay in a relationship. Whiskey & Coke told me everything I needed to know.

So, I filled my mornings with busy night before’s. Sometimes my night before’s bled into my mornings without a lot of sleep, if any. I filled it full of people and places, and I was never alone.

When I would eventually sleep and wake up, it was with a sense of vertigo. Going from my standard ‘Mom Nights Out’ with coffee and kid talk was replaced, at least for the weekends, with ‘Me Nights Out’ with martinis and talk about anything other than kids. For a former teetotaler with an underdeveloped sense of self, I was in over my head a little bit. Not that I didn’t give it my best shot.

I woke up with an American dude in Canada and a Canadian dude in America. I had mornings with a musician in Denver and an Academy Award nominee in Hollywood. I saw the sun rise with a doctor of philosophy somewhere in Portland and a bartender in Taos. And then one morning I rolled over and a very sensitive and caring professor said, “I don’t know how your ex husband could have ever let you go.” In that moment, I felt more alone than any morning I could have spent actually by myself.

I hurried outside, crying and stumbling along side streets trying to remember where I’d parked my car in the congestion of LA city planning. His words, while nice, hurt so bad I couldn’t breathe. I realized that I could bounce around from morning to morning like a disco ball and it still wouldn’t make the reality of a failed marriage any better. Dammit, tacky Lifetime movies really are right.

So, I regrouped. I created space in these Me Mornings to be all alone. Instead of focusing on other people, I started showing myself a good time. With the same care and interest I gave my kids for their activities, I planned things for me. I kind of got to know myself for the first time ever, and started looking forward to what I’d learn about myself on the next weekend. Whatever I’d do would include my trusty camera (and later, hula hoop!) and I took myself on some of the best dates ever.

I woke up to myself in a sleeper car on a train going from LA to Washington, in a tent on the beach, and in cheap motels all across Route 66. I woke up silently for 10 days at a meditation retreat. I woke up on planes and in rest stops. And when I wasn’t traveling on a beggars budget I woke up still and silent in my bed, instead of searching and anxious.

I woke up to myself.

I woke up.

I am awake now.

Good morning!

Here’s a lovely (ha!) morning self portrait for Erika’s post yesterday. Have you ever taken a morning snapshot of yourself? It’s easiest if you have cool filters and a black and white option like I do with instagram, I’m not going to lie!

Do your mornings have a rhythm, or do they ebb and flow? Have you gone through any shifts or changes that affect the way your mornings run?

I wish I had a solid reason for deciding to do a morning of Self-Portraits.  I don’t.  If I were smart, I would bullshit the readers.  The SP idea would have popped up and then I would craft a reason to write a post behind this idiotic idea.  So let’s pretend I did.  Here’s my bullshit reason:

I wanted to share the real Me with the world.  The Me before the joys and frustration of motherhood are etched on my skin.  The Me before I apply make-up and comb my hair the way society tells us Women should do.  The Me that I am comfortable with.  The Me that is so naked and raw it could only be my truest self.

But that’s bullshit.  You’ve fallen for or read that crap a million times.  Reading some version of the above BS, you’ve wondered why you aren’t that comfortable as the blogger/photographer/woman/man.  So I won’t feed you that.
Truthfully, I just needed an idea for a Morning post and sitting in front of the camera first thing in the morning didn’t seem that difficult.  For me, a morning SP is just as difficult as an afternoon or evening SP.  Most people don’t enjoy SP’s, minus Tiffani, but she’s forced herself to practice.  But I’m like most people, I hate doing SP’s.  Scratch that.  I hate sharing SP’s.  I don’t want anyone thinking that by me sharing a SP, I think I’m better/hotter/more confident than anyone.  I’m not comfortable with putting my face out there.  Seeing my face online is like hearing my voice.  It’s shocking.
But you want to know something?
I discovered that sharing a Morning SP is slightly easier.  I wasn’t awake enough to worry about how I would look in the camera.  I wasn’t aware enough to figure out how to craft a SP.  All I had to do is sit down and snap.  I knew or hoped that the readers’ expectations would be low because I just rolled out of bed.  No need to worry about what my hair looked like because I just got out of bed.  Bags under my eyes?  Of course, you see them.  I just got out of bed!  Dirty hair.  Plus I can tell my roots need to be touched up when I have to wash it every day.  Check it out.  You know I should be washing it every day.  In all of the photos, I’m wearing the same shirt I did the day before.  If you hung out with me, you’d realize I sleep in the shirt I wear the day before (after I get home from work).  In two of the shots, the shirt is the same.  Plus on the next day it’s inside-out (figure it out what happened).  When I don’t work out of the house, some days I might wear the same shirt twice.  Don’t judge.  You wish you could.  The dog appears because all she wants is love and she demands it when I sit still.  Which is only in the mornings.  Exhaustion hasn’t been erased yet and coffee is usually near.  That’s me in the mornings.  You’ve got Me.  Not trying to prove anything or trying to self-actualize.  It’s me being lazy.  I honestly needed a post and this turned out to be the easiest thing I could do.  I guess the real Me is easy.

Shit…

I guess I did get a little crunchy.

Or whorish depending on your interpretation the word “easy”.

Want to try it?  Test out my theory if the morning SP is easier.  Tell me if I’m right or wrong.  If you’re brave enough or easy enough, post a link in the comments.  One person has to be crunchy enough to take this challenge.

Or whore enough.

Which do you want to be?

Being a mom took me by surprise.  Not the actual becoming a mom part – I had many months to prepare for that – but the actual day to day “being a mom” grind.  I knew there’d be diapers to change, boo boos to kiss and stories to read at bedtime.   That’s the sort of stuff that everyone expects.  One thing I wasn’t prepared for though, was the number of times I’d have to remind my kids of basic stuff.    Who knew you’d have to repeat yourself so much?  Don’t wipe your snot on the couch (seriously, if I invite you over, don’t sit on my couch).  Wash your hands after going to the pisser.  Cutting your brother’s hair behind my back is not cool.  That sort of stuff.  I still watch my 9 year old like a hawk when he’s crossing the street because he doesn’t always remember to look – and I’ve been trying to hammer that one into him since he was a toddler!  You see?   Whether it’s about health and safety or just common courtesy, some things take a ridiculous amount of time to finally sink in.

Lately, their underwear etiquette has been making me crazy.    I grew up in a household with very traditional gender roles.  My mom was expected to wait on and pick up after my father.  Their arrangement did 2 things for me:  firstly, it made me throw up in my mouth pretty regularly and secondly, it made me realize what I wanted in a relationship.  Things worked out great!  Scott is my partner not only in life, but also in housework.  Score!   Fast forward many years and these absent-minded boys of mine regularly leave their dirty goods lying wherever they happened to be when they got dressed for the day.  And of course it automatically gets my back up.  I don’t want to pick up anyone’s dirty underwear but my own.  They know this.  They know this because I remind them regularly.  When I holler “Hello?  Underwear!”, they know they’ve fucked up.  They come quickly, grab their skivvies and rush off to the laundry room mumbling, “oops…sorry, mama”.  They’re sweet.  They fix it.  But shouldn’t this be automatic by now?  I’ve only reminded them 600 times.

I know that my kids aren’t the only ones who need gentle (and sometimes loud, obnoxious) reminders about the same things, over and over.  What’s one thing you constantly have to remind your kids to do?  Come on, show me that my kids aren’t just trying to break my spirit (or completely ruin my couch).

Two years ago, a few strangers came to Ohio to meet in real life.  Until that day, they learned about each others’ families through photos and emails.  But after that first meet-up, the friendship rooted even deeper.  And now we’ve vowed to make it an annual trip.  A couple months ago, Carmen started a Facebook group to discuss our 2012 meet-up.  It’s one place to cover the 2012 details, but really it’s a place to spew our anger or humor that’s not appropriate for regular FB (Grammy doesn’t need to read our stuff.  We have some class.).   One night while discussing all that junk, we decided the web was missing something.  We couldn’t find a place that truly celebrated the filthy glory of life (side note: Yes, there are plenty of filthy places online.  We weren’t talking porn that night).  You can find hundreds of websites that focus on the beauty of ordinary moments.  It isn’t hard.  Google it.  Our main gripe with those sites is that they all feel squeaky clean and homogenized.  Nothing felt honest.  After a string of comments, we decided to create this missing oasis.  A few weeks ago, Overexposed + Underdeveloped got a foundation on a string of snarky comments from women wanting more.

All of the contributors at O+U have a common goal: to express our lives as honestly as possible.  Sometimes the tone might be anger, exhaustion or frustration.  But mostly we hope you find humor and support with our posts.  I think you’ll be able to relate to an author’s point because we aren’t cookie cutter versions of each other.  We’re all different.  Some of us are SAHM’s and others are Working Moms.  Some have babies while some of us are parenting adult children.  We’re teachers, homeschoolers, unschoolers, professors, and public school goers.  We’ve got mothers to boys, mothers to girls, and mothers to girls and boys.  Some women have recently found their strength and there are women who never lost it.  One or two of us might prefer whiskey while the others love a cold beer.  Some of us are morning people and others don’t get moving until the evening.  We’ve got Americans and Canadians.  We’re married and we’re divorced.  Some of us cuss in our sleep and others have to be tipsy to let a bad word fly.  We’re different.

Most important, we respect those differences because they don’t define us.  Our similarities are why we fell in love with each other.  We’re all mothers who ferociously love our children.  We know life can be incredibly difficult but we find it’s easier when supported by a loving community.  We all believe that photography is essential to our journey and that life should be experienced at its fullest.  Finally, we believe being quiet and passive about life isn’t an option.  Our similarities give us a mission and a mutual respect for each other.  That’s our strength as group.

What can you expect from O+U?  Let me tell you what it isn’t first.  It isn’t a Mommy blog.  Parent your children the very best you can.  This isn’t a Photography blog.  Want to learn about aperture?  Google it.  This isn’t a blog to help women build their self-esteem.  Throw a rock and you’ll find your version of Oprah.  Here’s what O+U is.  We’ll talk parenting, photography, and general badassry because that’s what we do.  But will we promise this info can make your kids listen, improve your photos, and make you stand taller?  Hell no!  That’s a big promise.  We do promise you’ll get an honest and different POV, stunning photographs and a few kick-ass moments.  Do what you want with the info: laugh at it, shrug it off, or test run it in your own life.  Basically we’re using O+U to share juicy nuggets from life, mistakes we’ve made, and some photos.  Comment.  Tell us what you like or what you hate.  Let’s talk about life.  You have no idea how fantastic we are at chatting.

Each month, we’ll focus on a theme.  Without a theme, we’d be all over the place.  You don’t want us running amuck.  That’s really dangerous.  First month?  Mornings.  It’s a new day.  I’ve showered.  The kids are out of the house and I’m ready to hit the road.  I’ve had my cereal and fifth cup of coffee.  But before I get to work, it’s time to share these voices.  Read our profiles and come back tomorrow.

*I had to show proof of a shower.  Friends & family need this info.  They probably don’t believe it, but I swear I showered this morning.

Really, Ma.  I showered!

Fine.  I showered last night.  But I showered.

*Plus that bowl is empty and was staged for the photo.  I did shoot it in the morning.  And it was used for my kid’s breakfast.  I had cereal for lunch that day out of the same filthy bowl.  So it counts as a futuristic honest photo…  I told you we’d be honest over here.  Filth-buckets full of honesty.  Who puts up a picture of her filthy hair if she isn’t a smidge of a filth bucket?  An honest one that’s who.

*But the shower was used.   Promise.